Green Week in Review – June 14-20th, 2010

After the Murkowski Resolution (aka “Dirty Air Act”) was voted down, just barely, the Friday before, it is not surprising to see a number of legislation related topics up for discussion this week.  We also cover topics related to the BP Gulf Oil Spill and a breakthrough in efficient air conditioning that could really revolutionize building climate controls.

Senate Proposal to End $35 Billion in Oil & Gas Tax Breaks

We are not paying the true cost of fossil fuels such as the health and environmental consequences when we buy gasoline for our cars and electricity in our homes, but it is worse than that.  We aren’t even paying the true cost of collecting, processing and distributing the fossil fuels.  Senator Barnie Sanders (VT-I) is looking to remove the huge tax incentives for fossil fuels.  Maybe if we didn’t subsidize our gasoline and electricity so much, renewable energy sources like solar and wind would not need the incentives to make them competitive that they do today.

TreeHugger: Why We Should All Be Paying More at the Pump

I am a proponent of a basic carbon tax that would apply to gasoline, natural gas, oil, etc. to take into account some of the externalities of fossil fuels, but mainly to drive behavior.  Not that long ago we were paying $4/gal at the pump and behaviors started to change.  SUV sales plummeted while small fuel efficient cars and hybrids became extremely popular.  I think we should pay more to consume energy and that will drive people to pay a little bit more for much more efficient products and to change behaviors to conserve energy.  With prices for fossil fuel low, now would be the right time to start phasing in a gas tax adding $0.25 per year for the next 10 years.

TreeHugger: Each Year, 75,000 Homes Waste as Much Energy as Contained in Entire BP Gulf Spill

This number shocked me.  We think of the gulf oil spill being a huge amount of oil, and it is, but considering that at this point, it only represents the wasted energy of about 75,000 homes in the US, it reminds me just how much fossil fuel we consume as a country and in the world. With 80 million single family homes in the US, we are wasting almost 3 BP Oile Spills of energy every day in the US!  For other interesting facts and figures that put the oil spill’s scale into perspectivel, check out The BP Gulf Oil Spill By the Numbers on TreeHugger.

How About 90% More Efficient Air Conditioning?

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) does it again.  What exciting news!  Keeping buildings cool uses about 5% of the energy in the US, so improving the efficiency of Air Conditioning is major.  Read on for more of the technical details on how this works in humid and arid climates.

Enjoy the beginning of summer and be sure to get outside and enjoy the weather before it gets too hot.  We don’t have those really efficient air conditioners yet, so try to use a fan to supplement AC.

Happy Greening!
Alicia & Jonathan



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